Researchers from the University of South Carolina have published an in-depth report about how better training of certified nurses assistants (CNAs) could make a significant impact on reducing nursing home abuse and neglect.  CNAs provide the vast majority of daily care that seniors living in residential care settings receive. CNAs provide assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, and doing other routine daily tasks.  Despite the important role CNAs play in a senior’s life, they are often paid very little, have few career opportunities for advancement, and have minimal training.  Most have only a high-school diploma and have completed approximately 75-hours of additional training required for certification.  grandmother-809535-m

When a CNA is neglectful or abusive to a senior in a nursing facility, the victim of the abuse or his or her family members may take legal action against the nursing home employing the nursing assistant. An Atlanta nursing home neglect lawyer can provide assistance in pursuing a damage claim. Nursing homes can be held responsible for negligent actions of their workers, so it is in the best interest of residential care facilities to ensure CNAs receive adequate training.

Proper CNA Training Can Reduce Risks of Atlanta Nursing Home Neglect

The University of South Carolina researchers conducted interviews with staff members in nursing facilities, as well as with senior safety advocates, policy makers, and other professionals within the elder care industry. Based upon in-depth interviews, several key areas of training were identified where CNAs need to develop core competencies.

One of the most important aspects of training for certified nursing assistants should involve helping CNAs to develop a comprehensive definition of abuse and neglect. Some behaviors like hitting a senior are obviously defined as abuse. However, some CNAs may not even be aware when actions have crossed the line into neglect. Things like not taking the time to feed a senior and instead using a nutrition shake can have an adverse impact on patient health and quality of life. Refusal to respond to a call button or not checking on residents frequently enough can also be classified as neglect that has a harmful impact on patient health.

CNAs also need to be trained in federal and state requirements for documenting abuse, neglect, resident complaints, and resident mistreatment. While most are provided with some basic information, many CNAs do not have a full understanding of when and how to document problems and report possible abuse and neglect. Every staff member has a role to play in keeping seniors safe and reducing the chances of serious problems occurring in a home care setting.

Finally, CNAs need to be provided with training in how to identify and respond to workplace conditions and factors that can increase the chance a senior will be affected by substandard or neglectful care. Understaffing is one major issue in senior care homes that can lead to resident injuries due to abuse and neglect. CNAs need to be mindful of conditions that trigger problems and need to know how to deal with these suboptimal circumstances.

By 2050, more than six million seniors will be living in nursing care facilities and CNAs will be caring for them. Proper training is essential to protect this vast population of vulnerable seniors from injuries caused by neglect and abuse.

The Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a negligent nursing home. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

A patient who is considering undergoing a surgical procedure at a particular hospital, or considering having a procedure done by a certain physician, probably wants to know if the doctor or hospital has made any serious mistakes.  Hospitals and care providers, on the other hand, have a vested interest in keeping their errors secret so patients still choose them for medial procedures. face-1431793-m

Throughout most of the United States, hospitals and physicians are able to buy the silence of many patients who are harmed by serious medical errors.  9 Investigates looked at the practice of confidential settlements in which hospitals pay out millions of dollars to prevent patients from becoming aware of frequent mistakes and substantial risks to patient health.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Cases Kept Secret Due to Confidentiality Clauses

An Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer frequently helps patients to settle negligence claims after the patients sustain serious injuries due to medical negligence. Many people who have been harmed by doctors are experiencing serious health issues and do not want to go to court. Settling is an attractive alternative and patients who get fair compensation will usually agree when a hospital attaches a confidentiality condition.

A confidentiality clause means the patient is unable to talk about the malpractice, the injuries that occurred, and the resulting settlement. A patient is effectively silenced by signing the confidentiality clause and cannot share his or her story or tell others what happened.  This means other patients who are considering which hospital or healthcare provider to trust do not have the information they need about past problems other patients have had with a surgeon, doctor, or care facility.

Because confidentiality clauses adversely impact transparency and can make hospitals less safe for patients, some states have moved to preclude the use of confidentiality clauses in malpractice settlements and healthcare negligence cases.  South Carolina, California and Florida already have bills in place precluding the use of confidentiality clauses in certain cases. North Carolina is considering a bill in which the judge would be given the opportunity to have the final say about whether a confidentiality clause should be permitted in a healthcare case.

Other locations throughout the U.S. may also wish to consider limiting the ability of care providers to force victims of negligence to keep quiet about their stories.  9 Investigates interviewed one patient who had reached a settlement agreement with a hospital facility 20 years ago, after she had a partial hysterectomy and a surgical sponge was left inside her stomach. She was later told it was an abdominal mass and sent back to her same surgeon to remove the “mass.” She signed paperwork indicating a mass would be removed, and was not told that the mass was a sponge.

Multiple surgeries were necessary to correct resulting health problems and she suffered from ongoing pain and complications.  Because she settled her case and signed a confidentiality agreement, she still cannot talk about the settlement and was not able to talk about what she was enduring over the past two decades. She’s now speaking out in favor of the North Carolina bill limiting confidentiality clauses.

Every patient deserves to be informed about what a doctor and hospital’s past track record of malpractice is. Victims who suffer harm because of medical negligence also deserve full compensation and should not have to give up their right of free speech to get it.

The Atlanta medical negligence lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by medical malpractice. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

Surgeons are highly trained medical professionals expected to exercise appropriate care and exhibit necessary expertise when performing procedures on patients. Surgeons, however, make mistakes. In some cases, the errors made are so basic it is hard to imagine how a professional could have made the mistake. For example, a surgeon operating on the wrong patient; operating on the wrong side of a patient; putting in the wrong implant; or leaving an instrument inside of someone can seem unthinkable because such a highly trained doctor should never make such an obvious error. These events are even called never events because they shouldn’t ever occur. sala-de-parto-03-845205-m

The reality, however, is never events happen every year. Some estimates suggest a “never” event happens about once every 12,000 procedures. If you are one of the victims of these mistakes, you need to contact an Atlanta surgical malpractice lawyer to find out how you can pursue a case to recover compensation for losses.

Understanding the Causes of Surgical Errors Affecting Atlanta Patients

The Mayo Clinic conducted a study to determine why never events are happening and News Medical reported on the results.  Researchers reviewed records from more than 1.5 million surgical procedures. Researchers noticed a trend- many never events were occurring in simple procedures like anesthetic blocs, line placement, soft tissue and skin procedures, interventional radiology procedures, and endoscopies.  Researchers picked out 69 different situations where “never events” occurred and then assessed the factors resulting in the error.

A coding system was used to identify human errors that is based on the coding system the military uses to investigate what happened when a plane crashes. The system has four different levels of errors including:

  • Preconditions for action: This included things like becoming overly focused on a narrow issue (being unable to see the forest for the trees), inadequate communication, and being mentally tired.
  • Unsafe actions: This included failures of understanding, rule and regulations violations, and confirmation bias (seeing what you expected to, rather than what is in front of you).
  • Oversight or supervisory factors: This included planning problems and staffing deficiencies.
  • Organizational factors: This included operational process issues and problems with the organizational culture.

Each of these different levels of errors included multiple different factors that were on that level. When assessing all of the human factors that contributed to the occurrence of the “never event,” a total of 628 human errors were found. In each mistake, approximately four to nine human errors led to the problems that affected the patient.  In other words, for something to go wrong with patient care, multiple human errors must be committed.

Since there are multiple small oversights and errors that result in a major error occurring, surgical mistakes can often be prevented by putting safeguards and checks into place. For example, a bar code scanning system can be used to make sure surgical instruments are not left inside of a patient.

It is up to doctors and healthcare providers to try to prevent human error, and up to hospital and clinic systems to ensure there are checks and balances so inevitable oversights don’t have terrible consequences for people receiving care. If a provider or facility fall short, victims have the right to pursue a case for compensation from all those who are responsible.

The Atlanta surgical error lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a negligent surgeon. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

The number of seniors with no children and no living spouse is growing and is expected to continue to expand in the future. Today, one in four seniors age 65 and older is a widow, a widower, or single and has either no children or no children that live close by.  Among Americans between the ages of 45 and 60, currently 1/3 of the population is single. While seniors without spouses or local children are not necessarily socially isolated, a good portion of the aged population who fits into this demographic group also has no close friends nearby and no community network. Seniors who fit this description have been given the name “elder orphan,” according to Family-Studies.orgold-faces-3-940609-m

Elder orphans could face an increased risk of falling victim to nursing home abuse and neglect, compared with seniors who have wider communities and close families to protect their interests. Seniors without close family members need to be vigilant about protecting their own interests, whenever possible. This means if you are a victim of abuse, you should contact an Atlanta nursing home neglect and abuse lawyer for assistance.  Children who have parents in nursing homes and who suspect abuse should also take legal action, because an abuse investigation and lawsuit against a facility can stop the abuse of seniors who may not have an advocate to speak out on their behalf.

Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse a Growing Risk for “Elder Orphans”

Estimates suggest around 60 percent of seniors who live in nursing home facilities do not have visitors. Elder orphans, or seniors without close ties to friends or family, are more likely to end up in a nursing home because they do not have family members to provide for their care. Once these seniors are in a nursing home, identifying and stopping abuse against them is also more difficult. A senior being abused or victimized often is unable to speak out on his own and report or stop the abuse. This is especially true for someone suffering from dementia or similar health issues that affect physical or mental capacity. Without children or friends to visit and notice mistreatment, abuse can go on for a long period of time.

Protections must be put into place to protect these vulnerable members of the population. One solution is to increase community involvement in nursing homes. Volunteers to a facility may be able to spot when something is amiss, or can serve as a person an abused senior can confide in who does not work for the nursing home. Volunteers can help older seniors keep community connections and maintain quality of life, as well as watching for signs of abuse. Those who volunteer in a nursing home facility need to watch for signs of neglect or wrongful treatment and make appropriate reports.

When children visit their parents in nursing homes, they should also be watchful for signs that something is wrong. If their parent is being neglected or abused, chances are someone else is also being mistreated. Promptly reporting the abuse and taking legal action can stop the wrongful behavior and protect all vulnerable seniors.

The Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a negligent or abusive nursing home. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

The birth of a child should be a joyous occasion that marks a wonderful new beginning for a new family. Unfortunately, a birth can quickly turn to a terrible tragedy for a family if there are complications during the process of labor and delivery. Both mother and baby are at significant risk when a medical provider fails to live up to his basic obligations of providing professional care. baby 1

When either mother or baby is harmed during labor and delivery, an Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer should be consulted for help. Damages in birth injury cases are often very significant because the injuries are often serious and because both a mother and baby are young and have many years of life left to incur medical costs and experience pain when something goes wrong.

Birth Injury Cases Often Result in Large Malpractice Damages

Boston.com recently reported on one sad malpractice case in which a woman suffered a massive stroke shortly after giving birth. The woman was unable to hold her daughter for around a year after the birth due to the damage the stroke caused.

The young mother was in a medically-induced coma for two months following her stroke and even today she remains paralyzed on her right side. She requires twice-daily visits from caregivers, and had to undergo intensive physical and speech therapy in order to regain any of the basic functions that she can now do like speaking and caring for herself.

The stroke occurred because she was suffering from a brain injury. The brain injury had been diagnosed shortly after she ran the Boston Marathon in 2004 when she began experiencing dizzy spells.  A CAT scan and MRI diagnosed her condition and she should have been placed on a list of people with serious medical problems.  She was never placed on this list, which was standard protocol, and her obstetrician was not aware of the serious medical problems she faced.

As a result, the obstetrician delivered the patient’s daughter naturally instead of scheduling a cesarean section which the patient should have had. If the patient had undergone a c-section, the stroke would not have occurred and she would not have experienced her life-changing impairments.

The jury determined that the plaintiff had proved her medical malpractice birth injury case and was entitled to compensation or her losses. She was awarded $35.4 million in damages. The damages were, in part, intended to cover the costs of medical expenses which currently exceed $200,000 each year.

The case is not an unusual one, as many people who are harmed while having babies face permanent impairment that prevents work and that necessitates costly ongoing care for the rest of a patient’s life.  Victims need to ensure they understand the full extent of their losses and should get help from a caring and experienced attorney in trying to obtain full compensation for the tremendous damage they face.

The Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused during labor and delivery. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

When abuse or negligence occurs in a nursing home, the hope is that someone will report it. This could be a staff member, a family member of a patient, or the patient himself.  When the abuse is reported, steps can be taken to correct the problem and ensure that other residents are safe from harm.  Protocols can be changed to resolve problems that lead to abuse or neglect and the vulnerable residents of the nursing home can be protected. memories-252799-m

Unfortunately, top managers and even owners of nursing homes have an incentive not to report abuse, but to cover it up.  Syracuse.com, for example, recently reported that the owner of one nursing home as well as several top managers of the nursing facility were indicted and faced multiple criminal charges for covering up instances of abuse or neglect.

An Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyer can provide assistance to residents and family members when abuse occurs. Nursing home abuse cases can make nursing home companies, owners, and executives responsible for the harm that their actions cause.  When a nursing home abuse case results in a large verdict for the plaintiff, the verdict can also send a message to other facilities that abuse is never acceptable.  This is an important part of preventing future abuse because the risk of a lawsuit can change the incentives for managers and executives.

Why Do Nursing Home Executives Have Incentive to Cover Up Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home owners and managers have incentive to cover up abuse and neglect because the nursing home facility can be held accountable even when staff members are the ones who perpetrate the wrongful behavior or when staff members fail to meet the reasonable needs of patients.

When nursing home staff makes mistakes or engages in abusive behavior while performing work duties, it is often the nursing home facility that is sued and not the individual staff member. This makes sense because the home has more insurance and the company has more money than the staff members.  Unfortunately, it means that executives may try to cover up the abuse to protect the home from financial loss.

In the Syracuse case, for example, the owners and managers went so far as to destroy electronic records and other evidence of the instances of abuse and neglect. In that particular case, the problems involved a serious medication error as well as the sexual abuse of a nursing home resident in a dining room that was not properly supervised.  The coverup ultimately came out in an interview with nursing home staff members, which the home owner illegally eavesdropped on.

When abuse or neglect occurs, the incentive of those in charge should be to bring the incident to light, compensate the victims, and correct the conditions that led to the abuse. Only when nursing home executives have to face serious penalties for not coming forward will this be the case.  The criminal charges are a good step towards ensuring accountability, and civil cases can also ensure that the nursing home is held financially responsible for losses due to the home’s failures.

The Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury caused by a negligent nursing home. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. 

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries that occurs in motor vehicle accidents, and especially rear-end crashes. Many victims of whiplash accidents face difficulty recovering the compensation that they need and deserve because there are no conclusive medical tests that can show the extent of injuries caused by whiplash. An Atlanta rear end accident lawyer can provide help to clients who have been victims of a crash that caused whiplash. Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. will fight to help you show that you were badly hurt by the accident and that the whiplash is affecting your life. medical-709366-m

Although you can successfully make a whiplash claim, having a test to identify whiplash would go a long way towards making these types of cases easier. Fortunately, Physical Therapy Products reports that researchers have identified a new approach to identifying which whiplash sufferers will develop disability, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If this new approach becomes standard, car accident victims should have a much easier time showing insurance companies and juries that they are entitled to extensive damages after a crash that causes whiplash. Continue Reading

For plaintiffs who are victims of a medical error, filing a malpractice claim can result in an award of monetary compensation.  A plaintiff has the burden of proving a doctor fell short in the care provided, which can be a challenge.  Juries often don’t understand the specific professional obligations of doctors, and doctors can put up their own expert witnesses to testify that the care they offered was fine.  The challenges in demonstrating that a doctor failed to fulfill his professional duty is one reason why it is very important for plaintiffs in malpractice cases to be represented by experienced Atlanta malpractice lawyersnurse-1-1158314-m

In some malpractice claims, doctors actually violated federal guidelines or safety standards. When this happens, it can make it easier for those who have been harmed by the medical errors to prove negligence. Now, however, a new proposed bill would aim to curtail this practice to a certain extent and limit the kinds of evidence plaintiffs can use to prove a doctor’s actions fell below the standard of care. Continue Reading

The job of a Medicaid fraud investigator is to try to identify health care providers who are improperly taking money from the Medicaid system. Medicaid is a form of health insurance for lower income people, so a lot of Medicaid fraud involves things like billing for health services that were not provided or billing too much for treatments that were offered. detective-desktop-558786-m

However, Medicaid has also become one of the primary payers of nursing home care. Nursing homes are extremely costly and many seniors cannot afford these facilities on their own so instead end up relying on Medicaid to pay the bills. Because Medicaid pays for nursing home care for a large percentage of nursing home residents, fraud investigators can work not only to identify situations where the government is losing money, but also situations where nursing home residents are being mistreated. Continue Reading

Motor vehicle defects have been a big problem over the past few years, with GM recalling more vehicles in 2014 than it sold in five years and Takata recalling more than 17 million vehicles because of air bag problems that could kill or injure occupants. One disturbing trend that has been present in many of the recall situations is that there is often evidence to suggest that the product manufacturer knew of problems well before the defects were announced to the public. These vehicle defects have caused deaths, but manufacturers kept quiet and didn’t alert the public for years. us-currency-4-1007270-m

One way to potentially solve this issue is to create greater rewards for people working at auto parts manufacturers and car companies if they come forward and report wrongdoing. To that end, the federal government is moving forward on putting whistleblower incentives into place. Whistleblower incentives  have been tremendously effective at getting employees to come forward and report when the government is being defrauded of money. Hopefully, incentives to auto workers could have a similar effect at getting workers to come forward and reveal public safety issues. Continue Reading